China’s Labour Transfers; Tibet’s Identity Threatened

Stressing that labour transfer and vocational training programmes in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China was a threat to Tibet’s cultural identity, the United Nations warned that this could lead to forced labour conditions.


UN independent human rights experts said that the labour transfer programme is facilitated by a network of ‘vocational training centres’ which focus on “cultural and political indoctrination in a militarised environment”. 

“Participants are reportedly prevented from using the Tibetan minority language and discouraged from expressing their religious identity, both of which the authorities consider as obstacles to poverty alleviation,” they said.  

The experts feared the programme could further impoverish Tibetans and lead to them being forced to work, an official release said.


“Tibetans are being drawn away from sustainable livelihoods in which they have traditionally had a comparative advantage, such as wool and dairy production, and into low-paid, low-skilled work in manufacturing and construction,” the experts noted.

“Tibetans are transferred directly from training centres to their new workplaces, leaving it unclear whether they are consenting to this new employment. There is no oversight to determine whether working conditions constitute forced labour,” they added. 

The experts called on China to clarify the measures in place for Tibetans to opt out of vocational training and labour transfer programmes, to monitor the working conditions in their new places of employment, and to ensure respect for Tibetan religious, linguistic and cultural identity. 

They have received an initial response from the Government and remain in contact with the authorities regarding these issues. 


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